Shaking the Foundation Stones and Settling Historical Debts: HaRav Nachman Kahana on Parashat Shoftim 5775
Parashat Shoftim 5775
Rabbi Nachman Kahana
From the Haftara of parashat Shoftim:
Awake, awake, Zion, clothe yourself with strength!
Put on your garments of splendor, Jerusalem, the holy city.
The uncircumcised and defiled will not enter you again.
Shake off your dust;
rise up, sit enthroned, Jerusalem.
Free yourself from the chains on your neck, Daughter Zion, now a captive.
Burst into songs of joy together, you ruins of Jerusalem,
for the Lord has comforted His people, He has redeemed Jerusalem.
The Lord will lay bare His holy arm in the sight of all the nations,
and all the ends of the earth will see the salvation of our God.
Shaking the Foundation Stones
Two announcements of the last several days contain the potential to shake the “foundation stones” of the Jewish nation. The pronouncements in and of themselves are revolutionary, but the real story is that their concurrent appearance is obviously an emanation from HaShem’s decision to take His people to a faster and higher lane to the final Redemption. They are also a refutation of many Jewish communities around the world.
The first was an announcement by a group of Israeli rabbis, all talmidei chachamim, that in view of the ever-growing numbers of disqualified potential converts due to the severe requirements of the rabbinical courts, it is their intention to require the converts to adhere to the level demanded by the basic Halacha. At the present time, the rabbinic courts under the auspices of the Chief Rabbinate will convert only those who will uphold a Chareidi or near Chareidi life style. The intention of the new rabbinic courts is to open the obstruction in front of the more than 350,000 olim from the former Soviet Union whose fathers are Jewish by not their mothers, or those who had a Jewish grandparent. If nothing will be done, this number will rise to one million people who serve in Tzahal and are found in all walks of life and they will marry by civil marriage in Cyprus and multiply.
The other announcement was made by the Ministry of Absorption that it is establishing committees to map out communities in the world who are not Jewish but have a tradition of Judaism and feel an affinity to the Jewish people and to Israel, for the purpose of bringing them back to the Jewish fold.
Early estimates place the numbers at hundreds of millions of people. There are the millions of Bnei Menashe in India. The many millions of Conversos in Spain, Portugal, in Central and South America. Studies show a connection between the Pathans of Afghanistan who number over 15 million and the millions of people in Kashmir.
The concurrent announcements lead one to conclude that the idea to establish these alternative courts of conversion was implanted by HaShem in the minds of certain rabbanim to coincide with the future influx of masses of people wishing to re-establish their ties with Judaism and Eretz Yisrael.
What is implied in the governmental landmark decision to contact those communities which are not recognized today as Jews despite their tradition placing them as descendants of the exiled Ten Tribes or other Jews, is the disappointing acknowledgement that the potential for Aliya from the communities of the United States and Europe has been exhausted and depleted, except for the few hundred a year that Nefesh B’Nefesh succeeds in bringing.
The Prophet Tzephania says 3,19-20):
(יט) הנני עשה את כל מעניך בעת ההיא והושעתי את הצלעה והנדחה אקבץ ושמתים לתהלה ולשם בכל הארץ בשתם: (כ) בעת ההיא אביא אתכם ובעת קבצי אתכם כי אתן אתכם לשם ולתהלה בכל עמי הארץ בשובי את שבותיכם לעיניכם אמר ה':
“At that time I will deal with all who oppressed you. I will rescue the lame;
I will gather the exiles. I will give them praise and honor in every land where they have suffered shame.
At that time I will gather you; at that time I will bring you home.
I will give you honor and praise among all the peoples of the earth
when I restore your fortunes before your very eyes,” says the Lord.
The prophet speaks of two waves of olim: “At that time I will gather you; at that time I will bring you home”.
The first major wave began with the creation of the State: Survivors of the Holocaust, the near one million Jews from Moslem lands, the one million who have come from the former Soviet Union, the trickle from the United States and from Ethiopia. This was the periods of ‘At that time I will gather you’. We will soon enter the period of ‘I will bring you home,’ which will be so much more dramatic.
To accommodate the newly arriving millions, the Medina will have to expand our borders. The Arabs will leave and we shall draw closer to the borders stated in the Torah.
Settling Historical Debts
The UN is like a mass of infective germs, microbes, bacteria, viruses, etc., swarming around each other under a lab microscope. The automatic hand raised against Israel is commonplace in the Security Council, the General Assembly and in all the UN commissions. Israel is the only UN member state that cannot be a member of the Security Council, because we do not belong to any regional organization!
The European Union is no better in its attitude toward the Jewish State.
Today, most leaders of nations have their plates filled with unsolvable problems, but none has a plate as big as the one set before our Prime Minister.
Some of the minor problems facing the nation are: the civil war in Syria with millions of Syrians just waiting to escape to the Golan; the worsening economies of Europe where 30% of our exports go; the rising price of food and raw materials; the unfriendly nation of Turkey to the north; the wool being pulled over our eyes by the American administration, and the millions of Jews in the U.S. who could not care less about the Jewish State.
The more serious problems are three major headaches facing the State of Israel: Hezbollah in Southern Lebanon with their tens of thousands of rockets and missiles supplied by Syria, and Iran (modern-day Persia) which is tinkering with the atomic bomb, and Egypt as the newest member in the Islamic circus with the largest military force in the Middle East.
Our situation is the setting for the “Greatest Show on Earth”, which HaShem will soon perform before mortal man.
Why Iran and why Hezbollah in Southern Lebanon? Egypt will come later.
The world owes the Jewish people an enormous debt for our contributions to humanity: monotheism, Shabbat, justice, morality, science and so much more.
But there are two nations to whom we owe a religious and national debt – Iran-Persia and Southern Lebanon.
Hiram, King of Tzur (Tyre) in southern Lebanon, supplied King Shlomo with construction materials and artisans to build the first Bet HaMikdash. Although he was paid handsomely, it appears that his merit has not been fully recompensed.
Cyrus, King of Persia, permitted the Jewish exiles in his lands to return and rebuild the Bet HaMikdash – 42,360 Jews took advantage of the opportunity to return under the leadership of Ezra and Nechemia. For this we owe the Persians a debt.
HaShem, whose accounting system of right and wrong and justice and injustice is perfect, will not consummate the redemption process of Am Yisrael as long as we, the Jewish nation, continue to owe these debts concerning the Bet HaMikdash.
With every day of increasing belligerence and hatred by Iran and Hezbollah, the debt becomes smaller, until the hate neutralizes any residual good that they have done for us.